Step into Shyamal and Bhumika’s newly-opened designer store in Kemp’s Corner and you would know that a lot of thought has gone into recreating a haveli effect within a restricted space. From the beautifully-carved entrance door and wall panels, to the hinchka chains (used in royal swings), spiral staircase and Indo-European mirrors suspended from the ceiling. everything will remind you of the setting of 18th century palaces. “We contacted antique dealers so that we could maintain the authenticity of the decor,” says Bhumika, pointing towards a section of a wall that was made with wooden panels from an old ancestral home. Excerpts from an interview with the designer:
(Above) Shyamal and Bhumika and (below) one of their designs at their new store in Kemps Corner
Q. There is a lot of Indian wear on display at the store. Is that your forte?
A. Not really, we have a popular global line as well. In fact, the collection we showcased at Lakme Fashion Week in March this year, had a lot of flowy silhouettes. We specialise in occasion wear but we are not restricted to Indian wear. We tend to give detailing a lot of importance and hence, there is a lot of work we put in depending on the occasion the person is attending..
Q. How do you incorporate dying arts from Gujarat in your collection?
A. My project in college was to revive the Ashavali saree, which is a kind of a weave, unique to Gujarat. It’s a dying art. So, the weavers who were involved in making such sarees started making artificial zaris to sustain themselves. To revive this art, we did a lot of research on museum pieces and personal collections of people. For the college project, we got weavers from Surat, who used to originally make Ashavali sarees, to weave the zari. It all started from there. Now, we support a lot of hand embroidery.
Q. What sets your collection apart from the other designers?
A. Our inspiration comes from antique craft. All designers have access to diverse forms of embroidery and detailing but it’s the vision and how one trains their staff that matters. For instance, you will get a lot of zari-zardosi pieces but the kind of finish that we give the garment makes all the difference.
Q. What do you think is the easiest aspect of working with Indian weaving techniques and the most difficult part?
A. The hardest thing is to execute your vision. Since the karigars (artisans) are a section of society who find it difficult to make ends meet, instilling the thought of achievement in them is important and difficult at the same time. You need to possess the skill of channelising their ability and emotions in the right direction.